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New Era - Humble Boy

11th to 13th and 16th to 20th March 2010.

Here is the NWN review.

Pat on the back for Humble players

New Era Players: Humble Boy, at the New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Thursday, March 1 Ito Saturday, March 13, and Tuesday, March 16 to Saturday March 20

New Era always presents a varied and challenging season of plays, and Humble Boy was an excellent choice for this accomplished cast.

Charlotte Jones' witty play explores the themes of love, family relationships, the nature of parenting and the theory of astrophysics - quite a heady mix. There are many allusions to Hamlet throughout the play, including a ghostly apparition.

The action takes place in the Cotswold garden of the Humble family. Jane Read's design beautifully evoked the balmy summer with flowerbeds and a large beehive dominating the stage - but empty of bees.

The family have gathered together for the funeral of James Humble, a biology teacher and beekeeper. Paul German was impressive as the stammering, obsessive 35-year-old son, Felix, who returns from Cambridge University where he is studying the superstring theory and hoping for a eureka moment. However, he can't cope with the family pressures and fails to deliver his father's funeral oration in church, much to his mother's angst.

His domineering mother Flora, a feisty performance by Sue Keer, who impeccably captured the nuances of this self-centred selfish character, who has just had plastic surgery on her nose, and has been having a long-term love affair with their neighbour, the disagreeable, vulgar, George Pye - strongly played by David Zeke. He is the owner of Pye's Coaches and is determined to marry Flora at the earliest possible moment.

Bustling around is the dithering spinster housekeeper Mercy Lott - a charming portrayal by Dawn Sellick -who tries to provide a semblance of normality to this dysfunctional family. Her grace before lunch was both hilarious and acidic.

With the arrival of Pye's daughter Rosie, a sweet performance by Charlotte Allen, the plot takes on a new dimension. Rosie and Felix had been lovers before he left for university. She has a seven-year-old daughter and we discover that Felix is the father.

Much of the humour revolves around the ashes of the deceased that were transferred into a honey pot, with some alarming results. Gazpacho soup will never taste the same again.

Tim Oldham gave a touching performance as the gardener and the ghostly figure of James Humble.

Directed with flair by Anne Oldham this was an uplifting production, thoroughly enjoyed by an appreciative audience.